Gauteng Piling staff had to chain and lift boulders manually in award-winning project.

Amid having to cope with everyday challenges piling companies routinely have nightmares about, Gauteng Piling still triumphed in the 2015 Master Builders Association (North) Health & Safety Awards’ “Best Sub-Contractor without a Site” category.

While providing the foundations for Summit Place, Phase 2: Building E, a new office block in Pretoria, the company struck widespread rocky strata with a solidity seldom encountered. The project called for the provision of 145 foundation piles for the office block now being built by fellow MBA North member GD Irons Construction.

For Kobus Geyer, Gauteng Piling’s Contract Manager, and Victor Modau, Site Supervisor for the project, the piling at Summit Place in Garsfontein Road proved an experience to remember. “The major problem was the truly incredible rocky site,” explains Kobus. “There were large underground boulders all over the place and they took a very heavy toll on our piling rigs with maintenance levels soaring. We did expect some rocky terrain as we had done piling on an adjacent site a few years ago, but the extent and size of the huge boulders and solid rock underground at this new site were just staggering and forced us to employ drastic measures rarely employed, to meet tight deadlines.”

According to Sibongiseni Dlomo, Gauteng Piling’s Health & Safety Officer, the CFA (continuous flight auger) drills on the two rigs used on the project regularly struck deep boulders, some up to 850mm wide. “We simply had no choice but to remove the boulders manually,” he continues. “This called for lowering some of our site team members several metres deep underground into the piling excavations – on special ‘boatswain’s chairs’ – to manoeuvre and chain the enormous and heavy boulders so that they could be hoisted out of the piling holes by crane.

Sibongiseni paid tribute to the way Victor Modau supervised the piling operations at Summit Place. He also praised the rig operators, Visit Mathebula and Samual Rivala, who stuck to their task to keep the drilling operations on schedule despite the delays caused by flight damages.

“Daily maintenance and cleaning of all equipment such as drilling rigs and bobcats; replacing lost auger teeth; and hard-facing the cutting edge of the augers were critical for this challenging project,” says Sibongiseni.

He goes on to say that daily toolbox checks, safety task instructions, and job safety analyses always form part of Gauteng Piling’s safety procedures – which were absolutely vital for this project. “In addition, if any incidents or near misses that could have ruined our safety performance took place, I investigated these fully to prevent re-occurrences,” Sibongiseni concludes.

For more information visit www.gautengpiling.co.za